A/N: Okay I will state that I am Australian and thus know exactly nothing about Thanksgiving (except from The Simpsons, of course) this was written solely for the November MR Writers Challenge (check out the forum if you wanna get involved) so just keep in mind I don't usually write about things I know absolutely nothing about. Happi reading!
Haven't We Given Enough
"Max!" Nudge shouted, from behind me and I slowed, coasting on a hot air thermal, until she drew level. Her brown eyes imploring – damn her and her puppy-dog eyes; I should not have slowed.
"We have to stop somewhere nice tonight! It's thanksgiving!" she called to me and I closed my eyes in frustration. Okay, genetically-altered bird kids currently fleeing evil scientists and their pet Erasers in my opinion do not have a lot to be thankful for. Nor do we have all that much to give.
I opened my eyes to see Nudge still staring at me hopefully and I looked beyond her to see Angel and Gazzy's excited expressions. "Fine, but we aren't stopping early. Ari is still too close on our trail," I said firmly and she nodded her acceptance, trying hard to contain her excitement. I swore at myself inside my head, stopping quickly at the thought of Angel, and wondered what on earth I was going to do to get this 'thanksgiving' even close to normal.
What the hell was normal anyway?
The sun was setting by the time we landed in a small but busy city; people were rushing around to get all their very last minute shopping done. There was a big park with thanksgiving entertainment and families crowded around in tight groups. So not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving at home, that was a plus for us; maybe we had a chance at being normal despite our weirdness.
"Stick together guys, we don't know if there'll be Erasers in the crowd," I told the others quietly, moving into the crush of people. I felt Angel take my hand and Gazzy move up beside me as we maneuvered ourselves along a path obscured by the number of people who followed it. At least here if the Erasers did find us we should be able to disappear into the crowd.
Crowd? What crowd? Where the hell did it go? I turned around and realized we'd stepped outside an invisible boundary, basically we'd crosses the point where you couldn't see or hear enough to make it worth your while being here. Well, that's just great.
"Okay, guys, now that we're out of the madhouse let's find a nice big tree that'll give us a good view of things," Yup, yup, 'cause I totally meant to do that.
I glanced at Fang for a bare moment before my eyes were drawn to the small hoard of Erasers closing in around us. "Oh for God's sake, it's Thanksgiving! Why can't you leave us alone for one day?" I screamed at them, furious that I couldn't give my family just one night of the happy-togetherness they wanted. I couldn't give them normalcy when we were living in a home, what chance did I have while we were on the run?
I took off hard and fast, jerking my body straight up and pulling Angel and Gazzy with me. The others were beside me immediately, flapping hard to take off without a run up. The Erasers stared up at us and I could have sworn I recognized a snarl of frustration on a familiar face. Ari. I couldn't see him letting us have a night of truce for togetherness.
I saw Nudge's disappointed face as we flew and felt a gut-wrenching guilt that I couldn't give them what they wanted. It almost sounded like something a parent would think about a spoilt child but they were so far from spoilt… no, I couldn't think about this. I would give them a thanksgiving. Not Jeb, not Ari, not the School and every freak they decided to pit against us could stop us from being thankful as a family. Not one damn one of them.
"We'll land in the next town or city we come to," I shouted over the wind, "They can't be two places at once,"
"Isn't that cutting it a little close?" Iggy called back, while Fang frowned over at me, as if working out a puzzle. I shook my head vehemently, knowing Iggy couldn't see me, he'd know what my silence meant though. I couldn't justify it because I knew it wasn't the logical choice to make but screw logic; Nudge wasn't going to be disappointed again tonight.
It wasn't long before we landed and I felt a tiny surge of panic and regret for my declaration; this town was awfully close to the city we'd just left. How long would it take by car if they were tracking us? It was pretty safe to assume they were tracking us by now; there was no plausible way for them to find us so fast without some sort of tracking device.
"C'mon guys, let's just find a restaurant or something and eat and be thankful and all that," I said, looking around us with a touch of well-deserved paranoia.
"But it's meant to be all home-cooked meals and family…" Nudge said.
I kept silent, pretending I didn't hear her, yeah we don't have a home, and yes, our family is a little odd, but I'll be damned if I'm pointing that out to Nudge on Thanksgiving.
The place we found wasn't bad, definitely affordable, which we really needed. At the risk of sounding not myself I will say that it had a nice atmosphere. We ate quickly; we were hungry, and goofed around a lot and it was really turning into a real Thanksgiving. I could hardly believe the Eraser's hadn't caught up with us by then, but of course, they weren't far behind.
Ari smiled – or leered really – from the street, gazing in on the happy scene with a look of pure hatred mingled with bitter jealousy. As much as I wished Ari would just leave us to celebrate being a family I knew he wouldn't because really, why should he? It wasn't as if Jeb were waiting back in some lab to be with his dearly beloved wolf-boy of a son.
We were heading for the fire door within seconds of Ari being scene. A waitress screamed and dropped her tray as we pushed past her and I heard her scream again as Ari smashed through the window as he leapt after us. Nudge rammed against the door first with Iggy close behind. Gazzy and Angel ran together with Fang behind them and me bringing up the rear. I tossed a chair behind me and overturned a table to slow Ari down, feeling a little stab of guilt at the scared and horrified expressions on the staff.
We just made trouble everywhere we went, didn't we?
I made it out the door to be met with a gut-wrenching scene. Erasers surrounded us. Nudge faced me with her brown eyes wide with terror grasped by a hairy, clawed hand, her back pressed against the Erasers bulk. This wasn't good. Angel and Gazzy had taken off as soon as they'd stepped outside and they circled anxiously a short distance above the buildings, staring intently down at us.
Iggy and Fang were fighting their way through the mass of Erasers to either side of Nudge, trying to reach her and tear her free from her vicious captor. I charged straight ahead, glaring at the Erasers moving in to intercept me. The clang of the fire door alerted me to Ari's presence even before his soft chuckle reached my ears. My gut went cold with dread and I turned as the Erasers eased back.
"Max, Max, Max," he sung out in his rough guttural voice, "What have we here? Didn't get one of your featherbrains caught, did you? That's not very good leadership," he reprimanded me and my fists clenched.
"Ari, Ari, Ari, didn't get one of your Erasers killed, did you?" Fang shot back at him as an Eraser fell, bleeding to the ground.
Ari laughed and I was chilled to the bone, "Nothing that can't be fixed, I assure you," he said, "But you birdies? You can't be fixed." He said and made a twisting motion with his hand… paw?
A crack sounded and I froze, turning slowly as if a character in a horror movie. My eyes growing huge as I watched Nudge's small body first go limp, her eyes glazing and crumple to the ground.
"No!" I screamed, the sound torn away as Fang caught me around the waist, jerking me into the air with Iggy by his side.
"There's nothing we can do, Max," he whispered against my hair, "We can't stay while they aim to kill," his voice choked off and I felt the first tears fall.
I struggled from his grip and flew on my own, "Happy thanksgiving," I whispered as tears blurred my raptor vision, "I just want to know when we've given enough,"